One summer we returned from a week long extended family holiday only to find that real life wasn’t as much fun as holiday life. There was laundry to do, groceries to buy, mail to sort through, etc. I found that the children, still in holiday mode, wanted to go to the pool/beach, play this or that and I was saying things like, “I can’t. I have to do the laundry.” Yikes! I wanted to play with my children, but I needed to take care of some home life things. There had to be a balance.
Each morning in the summer the children and I (Dad is included on weekends) have our “morning meeting”. We each take turns leading the meeting. (When the children were really young they took this role quite seriously.) It usually goes something like this:
Leader: “I call this meeting to order. Does anyone have any news they want to share?”
Insert news like “I found my missing sock.” or “I start tennis camp today.”
Leader: “Today we will pick one work and one play.”
Then each of us takes turns saying what our work and play will be for that day. One of my children might say, “My work will be unloading the dishwasher and my play will be building a fort in the living room.”
I might say, “Today my work will be doing the laundry. And my play will be going to the pool with my children.”
Sometimes the meeting leader might ask everyone to select an exercise in addition to a work and play, but that is up to the leader.
The meeting always closes with:
Leader: “Did anyone remember any news?” And then “Meeting adjourned.”
By announcing at our meeting that I will be doing laundry my children know what to expect and my play lets them know I will indeed be taking them to the pool. Sometimes we help each other achieve our work and play, but mostly we allow space in the day for everyone to be successful.
The tradition of these summer morning meetings began more than 10 summers ago! And while I usually don’t need to be reminded to play every day, officially declaring my intentions certainly does help me make sure it happens.